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Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 06, 2003, 07:21:46 AM
Hello,

We played our second session of My Life with Master (see [My Life with Master] Black ooze and babies (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=8032)) yesterday. Julie really found her feet as GM, mainly in terms of scene cutting and moving 'round the table in order.

In fact, that's a question ... I've found GMing this game to work very well when "turns" are handled very much as in a card game, just going around to the left. If someone wants to walk his or her character into a pre-existing scene, fine, but the turns proceed in round-robin. The first time I saw this apply in a role-playing game was in Soap, and it shows up in identical form in Universalis as well.

Julie made an interesting point about one of her decisions as GM: in this game, the Master will never unite the Minions in a scene. In other words, if we want Minion-Minion interaction, we as the players must move our characters into the same locales. I can see that this standard on Julie's part doesn't have to be a universal constraint for the game in all its forms, but it's quite solid as a local standard - consistent with the "divide and conquer" abusive mentality of the Master.

So what happened? Oh golly. Let's see, Adrian Auenbrugger (Lord Schwartzschlamm) is this Brain/Breeder Master, using his black slimy bog to produce infants. He has three such children being raised in town at the moment, and during this (our second) session, two of them got killed. One of them was drowned by a Minion, in a wonderful example of crossed communication (the Master had no idea he was ordering the death of his most precious protege); the other was dragged into the bog by his mother (!!), one of the women who emerged from the bog to stalk through the town and reclaim their spawn during a Horror Revealed.

The Horrors Revealed both showed how much of the back-story can be provided by players in this game. The two that we saw in this session included the aforementioned women-zombies (tracking wet black footprints) and instances of black ooze seeping up in the cellar of one of the key households in town. I emphasize "can" because, of course, if a player is disinclined to provide such background, the Horror Revealed doesn't have to.

Here are some rules questions that I recorded during play.

1. Can the Master put some Weariness onto a Minion by beating him or her? The rules as we understand them suggest not, and if that's correct, we all like that. My Minion, Augustin, took a cane-whipping this session, and by our reading of the rules, he had two choices during the scene: (a) flee, if possible; and (b) cower and eat it. The fun part is that he takes no Weariness, so it's pure humiliation, nothing more.

And that kind of matches my images of some of the movie versions of Frankenstein hitting the monster with sticks, or the early movie version of Dr. Moreau whipping his beast-men. They hate it, and they can't defend themselves, but in plain old effectiveness-terms, the abuse doesn't lessen their abilities for later. (Note that the literary references for these characters contain no such scenes, but that's another discussion.)

2. Do Minions' "More than Human" descriptions affect one another? In one scene, my character Augustin confronted his fellow Minion Nestor, the drowner of the boy Augustin is looking for. Tod played Nestor as sullen and defiant, and not at all interested Augustin's distress. Now, Augustin's More than Human is "terrify anyone except when passion is involved," but I more-or-less decided on my own not to employ it. I liked Nestor's stonewalling in the scene, especially since he did confess (or retort, really) that he'd killed the boy.

But what if I, as a player, had invoked my More than Human? I foresee some potential for conflict there. All of us are resigned to being cowed by the Master, if we either choose to accept or fail to resist a command. But how about this kind of situation? Or, to choose an even more problematic example, the More than Human held by a Minion in my recent campus game? He could "kill anyone except those who bear him no ill-will." What if he'd turned that on a fellow Minion?

3. By my reading of the rules, Connections who bear Love are inviolate during a Horror Revealed narration ... but are not so protected at any other point during play. If the Master either sends a Minion or does anything else that kills such a Connection, that's it: the NPC is dead and the Minion who benefits from that Love loses it, and that's that. Assuming that all the preceding is correct, I'm curious to know whether the Master can conceivably do such a thing without any roll on the GM's part. I mean, it's more fun to have the Master order a fellow Minion to do it, but say the Connection is near the Master already, and the bastard/bitch decides to strangle the Connection for some reason. Bam, no Connection, right? With no roll necessary?

4. Tod had Nestor do a fair amount of Connections-interaction, including plans to get them out of town. That's tricky, isn't it? Say that a player-character does this and is reasonably successful at it, due to good role-playing and various in-game circumstances. Aren't those Connections now essentially "safe"? It's a kind of sequestering of vulnerable pieces, in a way. Paul, is this an issue at all? And if it is, what do you suggest a GM consider?

Best,
Ron


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: hardcoremoose on October 06, 2003, 08:48:51 AM
Hey Ron,

Obviously I'm not Paul.  Nor do I have answers to your questions.  But I do have a couple comments.

For me, the only problematic issue I ever saw with Master was that certain abusive GMs could prolong a game nearly indefinitely by systematically ordering the death of connections every few minutes.  Paul and I discussed it a bit, and I was curious to see if eventual play would bear out the concern.  It hasn't really.

But I was concerned enough about it that, when playtesting the game, I did exactly what you describe Tod as doing.  I maneuvered amongst my Connections very carefully, and at certain points tried to get them to "safe" places.  Paul was pretty savvy about it all; I don't think more than one of my connections ever actually left play for safer regions, and at one point a physical struggle ensured between another minion and I, with the life of one of my Connections on the line.  Even so, my play was rewarded.  I only ever lost one Connection during the game - and I had many - and Paul was either nice to me, or I flew under his radar, because I acted almost totally independent of our Master most of the game (unlike certain characters, who were constantly having horrible indiscretions visited upon them).

So I guess I'm curious to hear Paul's answer too.  From my perspective, careful play with Connections was rewarded, but again, when the Master was near, I was very good at deflecting the spolight from myself.

- Scott


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: jrs on October 06, 2003, 09:07:34 AM
I like to think of our game as the Schwartzschlammkinder game.

I've been wondering about the escaping connections.  It's true that Nestor was successful in convincing his connections that it is urgent that they leave town.  That they actually will succeed in escaping is a different issue in my mind.  I like to think of them on the road, just out of town, at night, with a broken wagon axle.  It would make a nice Horror Revealed.

I didn't really think about this too much during play; I was still grappling with incorporating the bog women from Maura's HR especially after Ron's request for an overture(!!!) scene with one of them.

So far, my biggest struggle as the GM is determining the use of the Sincerity die.  

Julie


Title: Re: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: GB Steve on October 06, 2003, 10:31:12 AM
Here's what we did under such circumstances. We did have a few queries and moments of indecision but on the whole we came to some kind of concensus on how to procede and it worked rather well.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
1. Can the Master put some Weariness onto a Minion by beating him or her? The rules as we understand them suggest not, and if that's correct, we all like that. My Minion, Augustin, took a cane-whipping this session, and by our reading of the rules, he had two choices during the scene: (a) flee, if possible; and (b) cower and eat it. The fun part is that he takes no Weariness, so it's pure humiliation, nothing more.
The Master does not inflcit weariness. Ours had a penchant for stabbing people with cutlery, but did not actual damage, beyond the humiliation.
Quote from: Ron Edwards
2. Do Minions' "More than Human" descriptions affect one another? In one scene, my character Augustin confronted his fellow Minion Nestor, the drowner of the boy Augustin is looking for. Tod played Nestor as sullen and defiant, and not at all interested Augustin's distress. Now, Augustin's More than Human is "terrify anyone except when passion is involved," but I more-or-less decided on my own not to employ it. I liked Nestor's stonewalling in the scene, especially since he did confess (or retort, really) that he'd killed the boy.

But what if I, as a player, had invoked my More than Human? I foresee some potential for conflict there. All of us are resigned to being cowed by the Master, if we either choose to accept or fail to resist a command. But how about this kind of situation? Or, to choose an even more problematic example, the More than Human held by a Minion in my recent campus game? He could "kill anyone except those who bear him no ill-will." What if he'd turned that on a fellow Minion?
We had our More-thans affect each other, in fact there was a fair amount of player on player action involving beatings and humiliation. I'd suggest that the more than you quoted is perhaps a too-much-than because it directly interferes with the violence/villany idea.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
3. By my reading of the rules, Connections who bear Love are inviolate during a Horror Revealed narration ... but are not so protected at any other point during play. If the Master either sends a Minion or does anything else that kills such a Connection, that's it: the NPC is dead and the Minion who benefits from that Love loses it, and that's that. Assuming that all the preceding is correct, I'm curious to know whether the Master can conceivably do such a thing without any roll on the GM's part. I mean, it's more fun to have the Master order a fellow Minion to do it, but say the Connection is near the Master already, and the bastard/bitch decides to strangle the Connection for some reason. Bam, no Connection, right? With no roll necessary?
I think the Master can only affect villagers through the means of a Minion but we did have an occasion when the Master ordered a Minion to bring a connection to the castle. The Master then tried to kill the connection but we persuaded him not to.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
4. Tod had Nestor do a fair amount of Connections-interaction, including plans to get them out of town. That's tricky, isn't it? Say that a player-character does this and is reasonably successful at it, due to good role-playing and various in-game circumstances. Aren't those Connections now essentially "safe"? It's a kind of sequestering of vulnerable pieces, in a way. Paul, is this an issue at all? And if it is, what do you suggest a GM consider?
We tried this, but to no avail. Nothing was safe from the Master who knows and sees all. He just sent another minion to retrieve them. I was marginally more succesful in giving my connection a sleeping draught so he didn't turn up to mass which I new had been perverted into a demon summoning ritual.

One of our more common problems was a player trying to make a connection and do the Master's bidding at the same time. We ruled that connections can only be made if the intent is pure, and certainly not something to meet the Master's demands.


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: joshua neff on October 06, 2003, 11:27:36 AM
When we played MLWM, we had the More Than Human abilities affect other minions. This was used to tragically humorous effect when Mike's groundskeeper Wilhelm (ha!), whose More Than Human trait was "can convince anyone, except children," convinced Ryan's minion Tor to clean up the blood Tor had spilled, when the Master had ordered Tor to get Wilhelm to do it. (Which was interesting. The command was for Tor, not Wilhelm, even though it was to get Wilhelm to do something. So, Mike didn't have to make a resistance roll, & Tor failed at the task, even though he gave it an honest try.) The next scene, the Master berated Tor for cleaning up the blood--"I told you to get Wilhelm to do it, you towering imbecile!"

The Master elimination connections became much less of an issue when two Players decided they both wanted to end up the new Master, so began attacking their own connections to drive their Love to zero.

...I have weird Players.


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Paul Czege on October 06, 2003, 11:47:43 AM
Hey Ron,

1. Can the Master put some Weariness onto a Minion by beating him or her?

No. He can't hurt you, and you can't hurt him until you have enough Love. You know how dysfunctional families have these crazy, knock-down drag-out fights, clawing and screaming, throwing dishware, and pushing each other through glass windows and shit? It's like that. When you're family, you never exceed each other's tolerances.

2. Do Minions' "More than Human" descriptions affect one another?

I'm going to draw from the dysfunctional family analogy for this one as well. The answer is no, not if the player of the targeted minion does not wish his character to be affected. When you're a family, you're so keenly aware of each other's bullshit that you're immune. Sure, you respect your family for what you know they're capable of. But try and put your flame breath on me, I saw it coming and stepped aside.

I'm curious to know whether the Master can conceivably do such a thing without any roll on the GM's part....strangle the Connection for some reason. Bam, no Connection, right? With no roll necessary?

Nah. It wouldn't be codependent if a Master could take that kind of decisive action. A Master should be considered physically/mentally temporarily/permanently incapable/unwilling to consider/do such a thing.

Aren't those Connections now essentially "safe"?

Julie has the right of it. There's no such thing as safe. If Nestor rolls a tie in a conflict next session, then maybe father is standing in the doorway. "You mother was worried about you." Sure, part of the player's game is "protecting your pieces" the way Tod did. But the GM's job is to keep the pieces in play.

Paul


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 06, 2003, 12:58:49 PM
On the whole "safety" issue, I think there are some interesting Step on Up features here. That is, I always play to subtly move my connections out of harm's way. Not that the Master can't send a minion out to do them harm, but sometimes out of sight is out of mind. Interestingly, if you do this blatantly, you're asking for people to go after your connections. So it really only works if you can squeeze it plausibly into play. So, again, the better the story, the more likely you are to "win".

On a "tactical" note, also remember to spread out your Love somewhat. That way it takes more for you do drop precipitously. This helps the plot as well by introducing more NPCs. OTOH, again, don't spread the love too thin, or players will catch on, and start killing the less important one's; after all, they're not that important, right? Further, you can try to be with connections that are valueable and guard them (people don't employ this tactic nearly enough), and too spread out means that you won't be able to defend the ones you love. Not that it often works, but occasionally you can thwart an attempt - it's a numbers game you're playing over time. A target rich environment can be just as problematic as one in which you have only a few really juicy targets.

So the key is to moderate your connections. Have some worth defending, and some "roamers" holding on to some of your love in the backfield far from notice. Spread things out intelligently.

Another key is to get love with other minions' connections. There's more chance that these will last a little longer if the other minion decides to resist the master on a command to kill the connection in question (OTOH, again, it becomes a juicy target, however). This helps the plot by intertwining it more, of course.

All in all it's difficult, but interesting to play to try to preserve your connections. The feeling of desperation that you get, as you're unlikely to be able to succeed in protecting your connections, is a very pressing challenge, IMO.

Mike


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 06, 2003, 07:21:14 PM
Hello,

I like the idea that a More Than Human works on another Minion only with that player's consent. That seems to me to account for any possible problems, and also to allow those over-the-top examples, keeping them from being, as Steve so rightly put it, Too Much Thans.

Steve, the previous Black Ooze thread includes some discussion about More Than Humans that overlap with violence and villainy. I would have thought they'd be game-breakers too, but as it turns out, they work fine in play after all, at least in my experience. (And I play with some real boundary-pushers in terms of stretching descriptors, believe me.)

Some more highlights of play ...

- Nestor mocking the child as he drowned him, which was all the more nasty because he'd actually had a sort-of-nice conversation with him in the previous session. Of course, Nestor also likes to carve apples with the Master's face and then smash'em.

- A quick off-topic conversation about The Blob, both versions, after Tod's Horror Revealed which brought the ooze into town. On reflection, I think the out-of-game discussion wasn't really as much of a digression as it might have looked. I suspect we were establishing that "Blob stuff" would be appreciated in further scenes, rather than "let's not do it like the Blob."

Best,
Ron


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Blake Hutchins on October 07, 2003, 10:51:33 AM
How far do More Than Humans apply to the Master?  Such as the "Kill anyone unless the victim bears the minion no ill will" one?

Best,

Blake


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Tim Alexander on October 07, 2003, 10:55:48 AM
Quote
How far do More Than Humans apply to the Master? Such as the "Kill anyone unless the victim bears the minion no ill will" one?


As I understand it they don't. I don't have my copy on me, but the Master/Minion relationship is pretty explicit. The only time the minion can really do anything to the master directly is in the endgame, and it's accomplished via love. Sidestepping those mechanics with a MTH seems pretty directly against the theme to me.

-Tim


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 07, 2003, 01:27:44 PM
Hi Blake,

I wrote pretty extensively on that issue in the [My Life with Master] Hell and heresy (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=8201) thread.

Best,
Ron


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Blake Hutchins on October 07, 2003, 07:15:36 PM
Thanks for the referral, Ron.  Will check it out.

Best,

Blake


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 13, 2003, 10:07:35 AM
Our ooze-of-blackness continues!

Here are all the really fun "it clicked" things from the most recent session.

1. Tod played his character Nestor as the most malevolent, yet pathetically-defiant Minion possible. Snivelling, resentfully protesting, ceaselessly trying to get his Connections safely away ... what a nasty, hairy little wretch!

And some great inter-player stuff went on about that latter. Ordered by the Master to fetch Nestor, my character used his Terrifying-ness to suss out Nestor's Connections, then Villainously tricked poor Hilde into going to the Master's manse ... Nestor then managed to get her out of there, but only by having her set off across the countryside, on foot, with nothing to her name, into the night. Angst, I tell you!

2. Maura didn't really mesh with this game and system until this session, in my opinion, but it did come together. Her character is saddled with an insane Self-Loathing (I think she succeeded in an Overture roll exactly once, despite many tries), so I can't wait until she decides to get medieval during Endgame.

3. Julie found her feet regarding the Sincerity die, I think, and it showed up several times during the session. Some musings about how to explain this die to future GMs of the game might be helpful.

By this point, the Master was onto all of our Connections and more than happy to make us miserable to get what he wanted ... and the key figure was Trude Hilde, his dead sister, arisen from the bog and clearly the mother of the only female bog-child. Minerva finds them in the family crypt, the little girl braiding her corpse-mother's slimy, scummy hair, singing a happy tune. As I pointed out, the male Gothic Master never just has a sister; he has, you know, a sister (cue impassioned psychotic monologue). So we were all pretty determined to protect the Love we'd earned and to get out from under the bastard's thumb.

4. We all tried to defy the Master one way or another, but fairly hopelessly. Fear 5 ain't messing around ... But I especially liked Minerva's protest: "Are you, then, God?" And at the Master's pleased self-realization that that, indeed, fitted his self-assessment ("At last you understand ..."), she loses it and calls him a "pathetic, self-perpetuating piece of Schlamm!" Of course, then she's commanded to do something awful and has to go do it.

As it turned out, we reached Endgame way sooner than I expected. That's mainly because two of us became eligible for Endgame, and looked at the odds and chuckled despairingly ... but tried anyway. On my turn, I got the Sincerity die (I'd been angling for the Intimacy one, but it kind of snowballed during my delivery) ... and it turned up a 7 on d8. With that helping out my little handful of [0-3] dice, I succeeded in defying the Master by a single point. So we're starting the next session with Endgame, which promises to be a doozy.

The main thing I'm concerned about, mechanically, is that (as I say) the characters are a little under-equipped for Endgame rolling. I think a little helping-roll and quite a bit of angling for bonus dice will have to be necessary if we want to kill him without going into insane Weariness levels. And what happens to the other Minions who happen to be in town, I shudder to think, as those townsfolk were getting quite incensed about our recent activities there. And let's not forget that black ooze puddle that formed in the cellar of the Glockl's residence.

And that dreadful little girl seems fair fit to become a new Master, perhaps. And what the hell is up with that infant who resembles the Master and the other bog-children, but apparently was not birthed from the bog? Endgame may entail a wide range of scenes, I think.

Questions:

1. Are Overtures still possible during Endgame? I'm thinking of the player-framed scenes for characters who aren't in direct conflict with the Master.

2. Could some mechanism prevent the currently numerically-possible outcome that Endgame rolls do not result in the death of the Master? I know the rules say the Master's fate is sealed, but how can that happen if the Master wins a ton of rolls and the Minion fighting him or her just gets ultra-Weary?

3. On a related but larger-scale note, what if no player gives a rat's ass about Love and just maxes out on Self-Loathing by obeying the Master, ultimately generating a Horror Revealed per player, every other scene? Should another Endgame mechanic be generated once that happens, such that the Master successfully destroys himself or herself, as well as all the Minions? Or something like that? [I suggest referring to this outcome as the Holmes Heresy or something similar.]

3. If a Minion is not eligible for an Epilogue after the death of the Master, what happens? I suggest an Epilogue option to cover this be, "The Minion seeks out and finds a new Master to serve." [OK, I'm cheating. Paul and I already discussed this.]

Best,
Ron


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: joshua neff on October 13, 2003, 11:26:33 AM
When we played MLWM, Mike barely made his Resist Master roll as well & was barely up to defeating the Master during Endgame. The result was that Mike pushed really hard each of his turns during Endgame to get a bonus die, pulling out all of the stops & cranking the angst to 11. If I remember correctly, he ended up pulling a "Darth Vader" & revealing that he was, in fact, the Master's father. (This had never been mentioned before, either in-game or -out-of-game. Completely spur of the moment soap opera revelation. And we never really established if it were ture or just an invention of Mike's character.) With a final good roll (which Mike needed the bonus die to make), he defeated the Master, who, unable to deal with the family revelation, hurled himself out the window to his death.


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Paul Czege on October 17, 2003, 09:04:19 AM
Hey Ron,

1. Are Overtures still possible during Endgame? I'm thinking of the player-framed scenes for characters who aren't in direct conflict with the Master.

Yes, you have it exactly right, overtures can happen in those scenes. To nitpick though, they aren't "player-framed scenes." They're requested by the player and framed by the GM.

2. Could some mechanism prevent the currently numerically-possible outcome that Endgame rolls do not result in the death of the Master?....

3. On a related but larger-scale note, what if no player gives a rat's ass about Love and just maxes out on Self-Loathing by obeying the Master, ultimately generating a Horror Revealed per player, every other scene?


Maybe I'm making a mistake, but these I'm inclined to leave unaddressed in the text. My experience suggests that the game very effectively carves out a shared ownership of the story, through the text, through the work of collaborative Master creation, and through play. So, by the time Endgame is triggered I'd be surprised if a group wasn't entirely capable of solving concern #2 to their own satisfaction, should it arise...likely inventing something very much in line with the outcome you suggest.

And if after collaborative Master creation a group is capable of #3, I'm not sure anything I might write into the game text would solve their problems.

3. If a Minion is not eligible for an Epilogue after the death of the Master, what happens? I suggest an Epilogue option to cover this be, "The Minion seeks out and finds a new Master to serve." [OK, I'm cheating. Paul and I already discussed this.]

Yep, I'm going to make this an official rules annotation. I recommend scrawling it into the wide margins of page 41 in your best deranged hand.

Paul


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 17, 2003, 01:16:54 PM
Problem #3 (the first) The problem really only happens if the players stop doing overtures. Because with enough Love, killing the Master is always possible. An easy guide would be to say that if two rounds pass late in the game with no attempts, then they've given up trying. If that happens, then I think it'll become readily apparent that the Master has won, and the game should end on some appropriate note.

That'd be hella cool. I love games that can win against the players.


On problem #2, there are cases, especially when the character's Self Loathing+Fear is greater than 10 that you could end up with a less than 1% chance to kill him (It's never a statistical impossibility, however, even without bonuses). To get to that point takes missing multiple rolls at a much better chance of success. So, its unlikely to happen.

I'm assuming that at some point the GM will stop using bonuses, and the player will be going for Sincerity. If it looks rough for the Minion, then it seems logical to me that the GM should take this as the Master's cue to gloat and he'll hardly be Intimate or Desperate.

Also, the odds are increased if another Minion helps. Which they should if they want to avoid some of the nastyness of the Endgame. Further, if the player goes in with more than the minimum Love it helps a lot. Your game ended, as you say Ron, early, meaning as soon as possible, because of player competition to be the one to kill the Master - a gamble on your part. In fact excess Love is the the only way an extremely high SL character is going to make it.

If it does happen that the odds get that bad, however (GM is rolling ten more dice than the character or so), then I suppose you'd have to be very determined to play out the potentially hundreds of rounds that it might take to get him. At that point, I think the player should probably admit his impotence and say that the Master has won as well.

I like that this can happen. It makes deciding when to "go in" strategic, and the chance of failure gives the player a sense of tension that he might not make it.

Mike


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 17, 2003, 04:51:18 PM
Hi Mike,

It never ceases to amaze me that you bring Gamist rhetoric to discussions of Narrativist play (as with the Little Fears discussion). "Player competition" in our game, regarding defying the Master? Bzzzz, wrong answer.

As it happens, I very nearly did not have my character attempt to resist the Master's command. I did so for a single reason: the other players and the GM really wanted to see my character show the Master the demerit he had scribbled into his little book. Egged on by their cries, I decided to take the pain and do so. Also, as I mentioned, I didn't even go for the Sincerity die but earned it more-or-less through an unexpected onset of Actor Stance.

Best,
Ron


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Paul Czege on October 17, 2003, 06:15:45 PM
Hey Ron,

I did so for a single reason: the other players and the GM really wanted to see my character show the Master the demerit he had scribbled into his little book. Egged on by their cries, I decided to take the pain and do so.

Out of curiousity, do you think this translates to a likelihood they'll author their characters providing aid to you during Endgame?

Paul


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 18, 2003, 08:58:45 AM
Hi Paul,

I haven't thought about it, and I think it's immaterial. If we end up "teaming up" that'd be one story (or kind of story); if we don't, that's three separate stories (kind of like the one implied through the illustrations in the rulebook). Either way or something in-between (based on inter-scene issues unknown to the characters) is fine by me.

You know me; it's all Premise and Theme stuff realized through high-Actor Stance play when the real crisis hits. I find thinking about questions like yours to be counter-productive, speaking for myself only.

Best,
Ron


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: GB Steve on October 18, 2003, 11:13:11 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Hi Mike,

It never ceases to amaze me that you bring Gamist rhetoric to discussions of Narrativist play (as with the Little Fears discussion). "Player competition" in our game, regarding defying the Master? Bzzzz, wrong answer.
Regardless of whether one is playing to defeat the Master or not, there is a problem with the endgame in that sometimes it's nearly impossible to defeat the Master if the character with whom the Master is fighting has very high self-loathing. You can just stay in the endgame with this PC accumulating weariness and it's not clear what to do.

That's exactly what would have happened in our game had the other minions not joined in, and even then it was a very close run thing.


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 19, 2003, 07:53:03 PM
Hello,

We finished our game today, and I decided to present my notes from the session, as I was the self-appointed "scene-recorder" during the game.

The Master: Adrian von Auenbrugger, Lord Schwartzschlamm.

Minerva: played by Maura, a scary silent midwife type who I think never made an Overture without gaining Self-Loathing.

Nestor: played by Tod, a hairy sniveling groundskeeper; kicked into Overture overdrive during the pre-Endgame session.

Augustin: played by me, the dried-out intellectual schoolmaster with sadistic overtones.

Endgame hit at the close of our previous session. Julie went over the sequence of scenes rules with us, and then we kicked in ...

1. Nestor was attacked by his Connection's brother or cousin with a butcher knife, and took some Weariness (spurt spurt).

2. Minerva was confronted by a staggering slimy bog-zombie woman and successly did some Violence to keep from being zombie-hugged (nrrr ...). She gained Self-Loathing ... which by the rules prompted a Horror Revealed next time.

3. Augustin was rather soundly thwacked by the Master (Julie's total was 25; mine was 2) for a point of Weariness. Oh, just to give perspective, Augustin begins this session with Self-Loathing 6, Weariness 3, and Love 9.

4. Tod requested a scene for an Overture to the aunt, and Nestor succeeded in getting some Love without Self-Loathing.

5. Maura had to cut away from Minerva and do a Horror Revealed, and wouldn't you know it, but now the black ooze was streaming through the streets, and all sorts of appalling children-ick things started emerging from the sewers.

6. Augustin pulled a burning log from the fire to attack the Master, but even with the Desperation die, my roll failed. More Weariness.

7. Julie isn't letting Tod off easy with the butcher-knife boy, and Nestor fails to escape via Villainy (note: he does not gain Self-Loathing).

8. Minerva uses Villainy to get the now-several bog-ladies to follow/chase her toward the Master. Success = guess what, another Horror Revealed coming up next for Maura.

9. Augustin pulls out the stops and taps right into the Master's deepest Wants in his monologue, getting me the Sincerity die, but you know, it doesn't work too well now that he's carrying all that Weariness. And now there's one point more to grow on, too.

10. Nestor gets slashed again, but Tod's request to get into the Master-confrontation is honored, and he contributes 5 dice to my next resistance attempt.

11. Maura has a horror-fest for her Horror Revealed and we learn that the black ooze is subsuming animals and old people in town, and the defective children are all hunching and stumbling toward the estate, saying "Daddy ... Daddy ..."

12. All right, Augustin's Weariness is now ridiculous, but I go for the Sincerity die by having him call on God and acknowledge his failures, and beg for aid. Clearly this is a Swedish movie because my total ( although higher than any so far) is not successful. Augustin's down to way low dice now.

13. Adrian commands Nestor to kill Augustin, but Nestor resists, and Julie rules that Nestor is now empowered to attack Adrian directly as well.

14. Minerva, confronted by a swarm of evil defective slimy children, uses Villainy again to get them pointed in the right direction, i.e., toward Adrian.

15. Nestor and Augustin are now essentially in the same scene, and I have Augustin aid Nestor instead of the other way 'round. This time, the rolls tie! So obviously, this means the bog-mommies and bog-kids must swarm in and disrupt everything.

16. Finally, Minerva can help too, and with both of our dice to help, Nestor succeeds in killing the Master. Julie narrates that he's dragged by the swamp kiddies back into the bog, and we all approve heartily.

I have lots of further points and comments and questions about some rules-stuff and decisions during play, but I'll wait on that. I figure it's more fun for now to talk about the Epilogues.

Augustin gained enough Weariness from Adrian's beating to change his Epilogue from re-integrate with townspeople to being killed. I decided to have him die during the fight, and Maura suggested that Adrian killed him in a fairly offhand-way during with the fireplace-poker that had come into narration a couple of scenes into the fight. That worked great for me: Augustin's moment of greatness came when he defied Adrian, and to die as an afterthought seemed perfect for this guy.

Minerva qualified for being killed as well as for suicide, which surprised no one who'd watched her Self-Loathing hit the roof. Maura opted for having her torn limb from limb by the bog-children, as she had facilitated their horrific production as the bog-midwife.

Nestor actually gained enough Love to get the re-integration ending! This was a big shock to Tod; ever since he had Nestor drown poor little Franc in the black bog, I think he'd been resigned to a pretty foul ending. But Nestor had busted his hump to save his Connection Hilde time after time, and now it all paid off. He discovered Hilde in the wilds before she got eaten, assaulted, dismembered, and/or frozen to death, and she gets him integrated with the townspeople.

I should like to report that the following exchange occurred between the two female members of the group:

[Julie has specified that the bog-women are no longer clothed]

"They're really slimy but they have attractive breasts!"

"Nekkid slimy bog-women!"

"Mud-wrestlers!"


Best,
Ron


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Paul Czege on October 20, 2003, 09:04:38 AM
Hey Ron,

Minerva uses Villainy to get the now-several bog-ladies to follow/chase her toward the Master. Success = guess what, another Horror Revealed coming up next for Maura.

This, I love. Minerva chooses to disregard her lack of Love relative to Self-loathing, completely accept the Endgame she must know she has coming, and use the Villainous effectiveness she does have to color herself a role in the Master's demise. It's the ultimate self-sacrifice. Even a minion with Weariness greater than Love, who can't contribute dice to another minion locked in Endgame with the Master, can still color himself/herself into the outcome in a thematically meaningful way.

Paul


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 20, 2003, 09:15:41 AM
Hi Paul,

Well, she did contribute some helping dice against the Master in the very last scene, but essentially, yes. I mentioned that her Epilogue was the quintessential "low self-esteem" lesson, and Maura responded that Minerva was "just following orders" ... and that's what you get when you do that.

We were interested in whether the Horror Revealed mechanics were utilized during Endgame, and it seemed clear that they were. The ramifications are very interesting - positing that the player chooses to use Violence or Villainy in the GM-framed scenes, and if Self-Loathing hits the ceiling, then the player is essentially giving up his or her subsequence requested-scene. It's a very strong little system feature.

Here are some system-musing questions that arose during play for me.

1. Does the Master get to utilize Fear either in issuing commands? Similarly, does the roll of a Minion who attempts an Overture take Fear into account during Endgame?

2. Faced with a conflict which seems to call for either Villainy or Violence to deal with it, what if a player says, "My Minion just takes it." An automatic point of Weariness?

3. Similarly, what if the player chooses to have the Minion simply flee the scene? I suppose it might be a Villainy roll, but what do you think?

Other fun observations about our final session include ...

- When the bog-woman attacked Minerva, both Tod and I stretched our arms forward toward Maura and leaned sideways in our seats, and went "Nerrr ... urrrgg ..." without any particular communication or orchestration between us.

- When Nestor did flee from the butcher-knife NPC, after taking another slash, Maura and I (i.e. the other two players) described his actions to one another, including making panicked faces and waving our arms over our heads.

- When the bog-children were first mentioned, everyone at the table gleefully supplied adjectives including "pasty," "defective," and "searching."

Best,
Ron


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: jrs on October 20, 2003, 10:05:10 AM
To follow up on Ron's questions, here are a couple issues that I was uncertain about as GM.  Can the Master issue commands to other PC minions during Endgame?  When Nestor appeared on the scene to lend aid to Augustin, I deemed it reasonable for the Master to elicit Nestor's aid in destroying the rebellous minion.  Also, is it acceptable to have the primary attacker switch from one minion to the other?  I wasn't certain if this was kosher, but it worked for us.

One of the things I really enjoyed about MLwM is how it seems to run itself with only a modicum of planning from me as the GM.  I just needed to get into the right mindset and be willing to think on my feet.  For example, the bog women introduced in the first Horror Revealed ended up being a major game component.  Before play I had decided the bog children in town were NPC minions and could not be used as overtures.  With the bog women I had to decide rather quickly how they would be treated in the game.  The two wives became Townspeople; the sister an Outsider.  Subsequently, two of the bog women became overtures (and since they're undead, a fairly safe source of love), and ultimately became the tools for the destruction of the Master.

Julie


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Borogove on October 20, 2003, 11:22:10 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
But Nestor had busted his hump to save his Connection Hilde time after time


<marty_feldman>
"What hump?"
</marty_feldman>


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 21, 2003, 08:37:31 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
It never ceases to amaze me that you bring Gamist rhetoric to discussions of Narrativist play (as with the Little Fears discussion). "Player competition" in our game, regarding defying the Master? Bzzzz, wrong answer.
Well it never ceases to amaze me how you miss it. Not that I'm saying that you had that experience. I was under the impression that your statement about the game ending early when two players had reached the threshold at the same time was an indication of Gamism. Apparently I was wrong.

But my thoughts were informed this way because it would have been Gamism in my case, or in the games that I've seen. "There can be only one" character who gets the ultimate treat of being the protagonist that kills the Master. And I've found that competition to be that player is palpable. Even when players are going for a goal on their own, I sense that there's a Step-On-Up element about reaching that goal cleverly. Manipulating the events so that the system says that you did well. Anyhow, like I said, it amazes me that people don't see it because it seems so clear to me.

Mike


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 21, 2003, 08:59:17 AM
Hi Mike,

Yup, it's a difference in how we play. Not necessarily an incompatible one, but perceptibly present simply when we're at the same table. Regarding the discussion of MLWM, I don't "miss seeing" this sort of approach - but it's not what I or the people in this particular group happen to do.

To some folks, a managed resource and a set of privileged or at least codified "directions" a character's fate can go, prompts immediate Step On Up. It may very consistent for that person or may not. To others, it doesn't, either at all or not very often anyway.

A while ago, I laid out some possible categories of game designs facilitating Narrrativist play, one of which included games like My Life with Master: lots of structure, highly behavioral scores which fluctuate, lots of conflict with a well-defined "this happens" general outcome. I also think this category of design is most likely to yield very easy and quickie Gamist Drift, which is not a bad thing at all if everyone's good with it. I'm pretty sure that if you and I were in such a game together, we'd have to resolve that issue very clearly or one of us would have a rotten time.

Which leads me also to point out the game/techniques in which (I think) we'd be most compatible: HeroQuest. I suspect that we'd both value the Explorative foundation of the material enough to maintain the integrity of what we each, respectively, wanted to do with it. HeroQuest as a game design is emphatically not in the category above, though.

Best,
Ron


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 21, 2003, 01:25:34 PM
I'd suggest that the incompatibility wouldn't be as large as you seem to make it out if we were to play MLWM together, because I see large Congruence in the G and N play. That is, no matter how Gamist I play, I can only get ahead by doing so in a way that looks nigh identical to how you'd play. I say nigh, because I think you'd detect my Gamism. But you wouldn't mind, I'd guess (forgive my presumption, but I think you're a more tolerant gamer than you give yourself credit for above) because of the story being created as a result of the play. In fact, I'm sure you'd be pointing out issues that I was addressing accidentally left and right. :-)

I know for certain that I'd not be annoyed by the percieved "lack" of competition. Because in playing for story, you push the competition envelope inadvertently. In way I'm not competing against you, but the system, which is pushing the ratings as a result of good Narrativist play.

Hybrid (GN) design at it's best, IMO. :-)

OTOH, I totally agree that Hero Quest would do an even better job of being a functional Hybrid for us in a more SN way (which I've posited as fairly unproblematic in the past). So, is that an offer to play, or would you prefer to run? ;-)

Mike


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 21, 2003, 01:30:42 PM
Hi Mike,

Yeah, you're probably right about the GN compatibility for such a game - but only, I think, if I were to receive explicit positive feedback from you about those Premise-y issues as we played. And it wouldn't hurt if I were to give Gamist-type feedback to whatever tactic netted you something-or-other at various points as well, but perhaps not as necessary.

Anyway, regarding HeroQuest, that'd be another discussion, I think. Perhaps the Black Horse Troop? And me GM? Forget it. We'd play characters and Josh would GM it; he'll do it if we whine that "no one else can do it like him" or something like that ...

Best,
Ron


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: joshua neff on October 21, 2003, 05:24:39 PM
Yes, that's right, Ron. Whine for me. Beg me. Feed my ego. And go fetch me some dice, damn you!

And you! Mike! Make some copies of the character sheets! Now! And while you're doing that, calculate some statistics for me!

After you've done that, then I will run HeroQuest for you. Maybe.

(Hey, if we're going to go off-topic, we may as well do it in the style of the game that the thread's about, right?

*Ahem* Okay, back to the black ooze talk...)


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Mike Holmes on October 22, 2003, 09:59:13 AM
Sure, Josh. Ron we just had a series of posts about how Josh can't possibly play any more than he is. So this would constitute teasing, I'd guess? Unless you're inviting Ron to play in our regular game?

Ahem.

To get back on topic, my point was that there's a pressure to go for the Master as early as possible. That is, even if it's not a Gamist pressure, the fact that he's a rat bastard should be enough to get most players thinking about exercising their options as soon as it's available. And all I'm saying is that doing so it tactically unsound, leading to the largest chance of failure.

Now, Gamism aside, I think that you can dramatically rationalize waiting in many cases. The most simple rationalization being that play will go a little longer if you wait a little.

What you risk, of course, is the master getting to one of your sources of love, of course. But that can be overcome eventually. If things have yo-yo'd back and forth already, hopefully the GM will see that it's time for the Master to go, and refrain from driving for these protagonists connections. That's an invaluable pacing tool.

Just some things to think about in play.

Mike


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Lisa Padol on October 25, 2003, 10:41:28 PM
"2. Could some mechanism prevent the currently numerically-possible outcome that Endgame rolls do not result in the death of the Master?..."

Yes, I've been wondering this myself. What happens if the Master keeps winning to the point where the minions just ain't  gonna win any rolls?

-Lisa


Title: [My Life with Master] Black ooze oozes forth
Post by: Ron Edwards on October 27, 2003, 11:26:58 AM
Hello,

Lisa, I decided that question was important enough to 'port to the Half Meme Press forum, in a new thread called When Endgame crashes and burns (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=88269). Let's see what Paul says there.

Best,
Ron